Selected terrorist attacks and related incidents worldwide: Introduction
compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston
last updated 29 August 2021
The above links provide, in three parts, a listing of selected terrorist attacks worldwide from 1880 to the present. It includes events of the following types: terrorist attacks resulting in 20 or more fatalities and/or 100 or more injuries; attacks otherwise of special political significance, such as assassinations; significant attacks involving unconventional weapons; and some non-terrorist criminal acts of methodological relevance.
These listings are incomplete. Incidents with 20-100 fatalities are relatively complete from 1950-2000 but are known incomplete for other periods. Ambiguities in the definition of terrorism are also an acknowledged issue. Data sets on this site prefer a definition of terrorism, in brief, as politically-motivated violence by sub-national actors. Domestic (intra-country) violence during civil wars is a prime example of ambiguity, and these listings are incomplete in such cases, particularly for some developing nations. Several cases of international state-sponsored terrorism are included, but in line with convention actions by governments within their territory, or actions by regular military forces, are not. Attacks against combatants are not automatically excluded, as the relevant criteria is whether the attacker is recognized as a terrorist by international law. Multiple coordinated attacks on a single day are counted as a single incident. Counts of fatalities and injuries include both victims and attackers. Several accident cases are included for the record as they have been erroneously identified as terrorist attacks by some sources. Accidental and criminal incidents (as opposed to terrorist incidents) are identified in the descriptions accordingly.
Summary data for the above listings (note: listings are incomplete):
- 1,140 incidents listed (including accidental and criminal), 65,073 fatalities and 125,770 injuries
- 1,101 terrorist incidents listed, total 60,313 fatalities and 121,122 injuries
- 5 terrorist incidents with at least 500 fatalities; 134 with at least 100 fatalities; 927 with at least 20 fatalities
- 1880-2000: 296 incidents, including 269 terrorist incidents
- 2001-2010: 271 incidents, including 266 terrorist incidents
- 2011-2015: 311 incidents, including 306 terrorist incidents
- 2016-2021: 262 incidents, including 260 terrorist incidents
The following related pages include more information (including listings with different criteria):
- Aviation Safety Network, 2015, "ASN Aviation Safety Database," AviationSafetyNetwork, on line [http://aviation-safety.net/database/].
- Bodansky, Ivan, Target America, 1993, SPI Books, New York, NY.
- Carus, W. Seth, "The Threat of Bioterrorism," National Defense University Strategic Forum, Sept. 1997, online.
- CDISS, 1999, CDISS Database: Terrorist Incidents 1945 to 1998 by Centre for Defence and International Security Studies.
- Dobson, Christopher, and Ronald Payne, The Never-Ending War: Terrorism in the 80s, 1989, Facts on File, Inc., New York, NY.
- Douglass, Joseph D. Jr., and Neil C. Livingstone, America the Vulnerable: The Threat of Chemical/Biological Warfare, 1987, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA.
- Famighetti, Robert, ed., World Almanac and Book of Facts 1995, 1994, Funk and Wagnalls Corp., Mahwah, NJ.
- Hirsch, Daniel, "The Truck Bomb and Insider Threats to Nuclear Facilities", in Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: The Report and Papers of the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism, ed. by Paul Leventhal and Yonah Alexander, 1987, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 207-222.
- Hoffman, Bruce, Recent Trends and Future Prospects of Terrorism in the United States, 1988, RAND Corp., Santa Monica, CA.
- Hoffman, Bruce, "Responding to Terrorism Across the Technological Spectrum," 15 July 1994, SSI, online.
- Hubbard, David, Winning Back the Sky: A Tactical Analysis of Terrorism, 1986, Saybrook Publ., Dallas, TX.
- International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, "Terror Attack Database," 2000, at International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, online [http://www.ict.org.il/inter_ter/attacksearch.cfm].
- Jane's, "Silo Shooting a Cause for Concern", Jane's Defence Weekly, 9 April 1994, p. 15.
- Janke, Peter, Guerrilla and Terrorist Organisations: A World Directory and Bibliography, 1983, Macmillan Publ. Co., New York, NY.
- Johnson, Otto, ed., The 1990 Information Please Almanac, 1989, Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY.
- Kellen, Konrad, "Appendix: Nuclear-Related Terrorist Activities by Political Terrorists" to "The Potential for Nuclear Terrorism: A Discussion", in Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: The Report and Papers of the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism, ed. by Paul Leventhal and Yonah Alexander, 1987, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 123-133.
- Kupperman, Robert, and Jeff Kamen, Final Warning: Averting Disaster in the New Age of Terrorism, 1989, Doubleday, New York, NY.
- Mastrapa, Armando F. III, "International Terrorism and Political Violence Incidents," 2000, at Political Violence Database, online [http://polisci.home.mindspring.com/ptd/itapvi/].
- MIPT, RAND Database at Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.
- Mullen, Robert K., "Nuclear Violence", in Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: The Report and Papers of the International Task Force on Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism, ed. by Paul Leventhal and Yonah Alexander, 1987, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 231-247.
- Potter, William C., Nuclear Profiles of the Soviet Successor States, 1993, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Monterey, CA.
- U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1996, 1997, U.S. Dept. of State, Washington, DC.
- U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998, 1999, U.S. Dept. of State, Washington, DC.
- U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999, 2000, U.S. Dept. of State, Washington, DC.
- Vetter, Harold J., and Gary R. Perlstein, Perspectives on Terrorism, 1991, Brooks/Cole Publ. Co., Pacific Grove, CA.
- news reports.
- and additional sources on the pages linked above.
© 2000-2018, 2021 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 29 August 2021.
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